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Monday, April 14, 2008

Obadiah Oldbuck redux: Beau Ogleby

As I mentioned yesterday (this seems to be today's standard opening), yet another hand-drawn old graphic novel has come to light. I'll hand over to Darrell Coons as he's the Man Who Knows about it:

"Your column on a unique copy of Obadiah Oldbuck caught my eye because of a similar copy I have of Beau Ogleby, another of Töpffer's comic albums that was translated into English and redrawn for publication. Like the Turner copy of OO, my copy of Beau Ogleby is hand-drawn and bound in a hard cover, and is a very close copy of the English edition by Tilt and Bogue, but without the illustrated title page. It is not signed and has nothing to indicate who the artist was. I have discussed this book with Prof. David Kunzle, an authority on Töpffer. He concluded that it had been traced from the Tilt and Bogue edition, possibly in the time period of that publication. I wonder if it could have been drawn by William Webb Turner."

Darrell further mentions, "I bought it from a book dealer in London. Someone wrote inside the front "Ex Bristow 3/78," whatever that means. The paper has a watermark "1834," but I have not yet been able to find out what that means."

Could this be another example of William Webb Turner's work? Frankly, your guess is as good as mine. From the examples of Turner's work I was able to post the other day it can be seen that he was a capable copyer of Töpffer's work. The Obadiah Oldbuck volume could well have been traced as is the Beau Ogleby.

I'm beginning to think of Turner as the BitTorrent of his era: copying comics and lending out the sheets to his pals to whom he was known as "World Wide" Webb Turner.

(* The pictures above show how close but subtly different the hand-drawn manuscript version is to the original Tilt & Bogue version, from which the hand-coloured picture at the top of this column comes. The coloured edition can be seen in full at the Michegan State University website... except the link doesn't seem to be working at the time of writing. Hopefully it's working again by the time you read this.)

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